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Ignorant Newbie Questions..
« on: January 02, 2007, 08:23:58 AM »
Hello everyone and Happy New Year.

My apologies for asking this, but I'm quite enthusiastic about joining the world of CNC but am struggling to get my ducks in a row from a software perspective, mostly due to lack of understanding at this point.

I built a "cheesy" CNC Plasma cutter machine:
http://frederic.midimonkey.com/cnc-gantry2.html

And recently acquired a HF Milling machine:
http://frederic.midimonkey.com/yard-mill-install.html

I understand the stepper/servo aspect from an interfacing and mounting perspective, and have already started fabricating mounts, wiring, electronics, and so on.  No problems here.

Where I'm confused is with the software.  Best I can tell I need three major functions:

1. A software program to draw the parts in.
2. A software program to take the output of what I draw, and convert it to G-Code.
3. A software program to take the G-Code, and use that to instruct stepper/servo motors to do something, collecting feedback from optical rotary encoders to verify such instructions actually happened.

From what little knowledge I've acquired to date, I believe Mach3 provides #3 in the above list?  Is my simplistic list correct?

I downloaded and installed the Mach3 "unlimited trial" because it was one of the few software programs that can diddle the parallel port(s) to drive motor controllers.  That and TurboCNC (which is a dos program).

BTW, what limitations does the "unlimited trial" have?  I'm assuming there are limitations to encourage people to ultimately buy it which is reasonable.

Am I on the right track?

If I am, then I should probably try to resolve what software I should use to achieve #1 and #2 in the above list.

Thank you in advance for your patience and answers.

Hood

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Re: Ignorant Newbie Questions..
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2007, 08:39:41 AM »
Mach has a program with it clled LazyCAM, it is a CAM package which will help you convert your drawings into code. It is still under development so is not perfect but will more than likely do most of what you require. Also have a look at the wizards in Mach, they allow you to do quite a lot of simple tasks such as circular pockets, rectangular pockets, surfaceing etc etc. All you need to do is enter dimensions and feeds and the code will be produced.
 For drawing there are many packages about, some free and some you will need a second mortgage for ;)
 Have a look at the links page, I am sure there is a list of some.
Hood

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Re: Ignorant Newbie Questions..
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2007, 08:48:09 AM »
Hey Frederic,
     Yes, you are headed in the right direction. Mach will take care of # 3 like a champ and, as Hood said it comes with Lazycam that will take care of # 2 as well. The trial version is limited to 1000 lines of code and will only run in the 25KHz mode. Check out this link.
http://www.machsupport.com/MachJargonBusterWiki/index.php?title=Demo_mode_limitations

Brett
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